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Dyes and Liquid Crystals: Molecular Designs for Guest-Host Applications

Department of Chemistry

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Dr J N Moore , Dr S Cowling Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project


A variety of devices for colour and monochrome displays can be obtained by incorporating a dye as a guest in a liquid crystalline (LC) host, providing a flexible route to light-scattering devices that can operate in strong ambient light, including outdoors. The applications of such systems are typically focused on display devices at present, but they may also offer the opportunity to design and develop novel optical-sensing and -switching devices.

We have recently been carrying out experimental and computational studies of various sets of dyes, LC hosts, and dye-host systems. Most importantly, we have been developing new approaches to understanding and simulating the behaviour of these host and guest-host systems, revealing the various features of molecular structure that control the distinct differences in alignment and other properties that are essential to device performance. Progress in understanding the fundamental interplay between the structure and properties of such dyes and their LC hosts is important and has the potential for significant impact, both academic and commercial, because it provides a route to the rational design of new materials and guest-host systems.


The aim of this project will be to explore design strategies through experimental and computational studies of families of new dyes and liquid crystals, studying the underlying chemistry to improve our fundamental understanding of the relationship between structure and properties. The development of such an understanding may lead to an expansion into areas beyond display devices.
The project may involve studies of a range of liquid crystals, and dyes in liquid crystals and regular solvents, by a range of methods, including spectroscopy, materials characterisation techniques, and studies of devices. Computational techniques, such as DFT and MD simulations, will be used to model materials and their dynamic behaviour.

All Chemistry research students have access to our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills: https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/postgraduate/idtc/

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel: https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/ed/.

You should expect hold or expect to achieve the equivalent of at least a UK upper second class degree in Chemistry or a related subject. Please check the entry requirements for your country: https://www.york.ac.uk/study/international/your-country/

Funding Notes

This project is available to students from any country who can fund their own studies. The Department of Chemistry at the University of York is pleased to offer Wild Fund Scholarships. Applications are welcomed from those who meet the PhD entry criteria from any country outside the UK. Scholarships will be awarded on supervisor support, academic merit, country of origin, expressed financial need and departmental strategy. For further details and deadlines, please see our website: https://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/postgraduate/research/funding/wild/


Related publications
[1] M T Sims, L C Abbott, S J Cowling, J W Goodby and J N Moore, Chem. Eur. J. 21, 10123-10130 (2015)
[2] M T Sims, L C Abbott, S J Cowling, J W Goodby and J N Moore, J. Phys. Chem. C 120, 11151-11162 (2016)
[3] M T Sims, L C Abbott, S J Cowling, J W Goodby and J N Moore, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 18, 20651-20663 (2016)
[4] M T Sims, L C Abbott, S J Cowling, J W Goodby and J N Moore, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 19, 813-827 (2017)
[5] MT Sims, RJ Mandle, JW Goodby, JN Moore, Liquid Crystals 44, 2029 (2017)
[6] MT Sims, LC Abbott, JW Goodby, JN Moore, Soft Matter, DOI: 10.1039/C9SM01527B, in press (2019)
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